Curried Quinoa & Red Lentil Soup

Despite the fact that we have had a few warmer days here in Utah (in January even–crazy right!?) my desire for soup never went away.  I could eat soup throughout the whole year; especially this Curried Quinoa and Red Lentil soup! I love this soup because of the strong Middle Eastern flare and flavor that can’t be beat.

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The broth base makes the soup hearty, yet light at the same time. I also really enjoy the combination of the red lentils and quinoa. Not only do they bring a heavy dose of protein, but they add texture and color. The mixture of garlic, ginger, and curry powder bring a perfect Middle Eastern flare and a flavor that can’t be beat. I wanted a bit more heat in the soup so I added a pinch of cayenne pepper.  You could easily omit, reduce, or increase this amount depending on your taste.

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Recently I have enjoyed learning about lentils.  For the last two years I’ve included them in my diet. I knew that they were a great plant-based protein source, but I wasn’t aware of the other nutrients they carried and their wide versatility.  1 cup of boiled lentils provides 16 grams of fiber! That is 64% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

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There are many different colors and types of lentils including:

  • Brown lentils-These is by far the most common variety of lentil, and probably the one that you see at your local grocery store. They range in color from light-brown to dark black, and generally have a mild, earthy flavor. They cook in about 20 to 30 minutes and hold their shape very well; although if cooked too long they can become mushy. Common varieties are Spanish Brown, German Brown, or Indian Brown.
  • French green or Puy lentil- These are also quite common.  These are a dark green color and often considered the most flavorful variety because they have a peppery taste.  They take longer to cook then other types, but they tend to stay firm.  Use them in dishes that need a little crunch such as salads.
  • Red lentils- These are actually brown lentils with the hulls removed. Red lentils have a mild, sweet flavor.  When cooked, they turn a golden color. Out of all the colors lentils have, the brightness of the red catches my attention. When cooked these lentils do not hold their shape very well and tend to become mushy. They are used commonly in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.
  • Less common types- These varieties of lentils can usually be found in specialty food stores.  They include: 1) black lentils 2) white lentils (a black lentil with the hull removed) and 3) macachiados lentils ( a Mexican variety lentil).

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This soup could easily be made on a weeknight.  Because red lentils cook so quickly, they only have to simmer in this soup for about 10 minutes; which is enough time for them to soften and take on the flavors.

Garnish the soup with some fresh chopped cilantro and a dollop Greek yogurt.  Enjoy!

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Curried Quinoa and Red Lentil Soup | Gluten Free, Vegan

Yield: 6 servings (2 cups)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked (1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked)
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  •  2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans vegetable broth (can sub chicken broth)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • Pinch of cayenne powder, add more if desired
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
Directions
  1. Rinse quinoa and cook according to instructions. Put to the side for later.
  2. If using freeze dried celery, add 3/4 cup of celery to 1 1/2 cups water.  Let rehydrate for 8 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.  Add carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes, chili powder, and cayenne powder.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Add the quinoa and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
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